Ways of the Wild Card

Sitting here at work, I await the start of Spurs vs West Ham. Hold out hope that West Ham is up for the match at Wembley. As we saw earlier in the years, Spurs struggled against some lower ranked opponents (BUR/SWA/BOU/BHA) and put in a poor, out of form performance. We have also seen West Ham step up their defensive prowess and post clean sheets against Chelsea and Arsenal. So which teams will show up today? My hope is West Ham brings a stout defense to Wembley and Arthur Masuaka is able to come away from the game with a few points.

This article isn’t about the DGW that concludes today, I will wait to post my retrospect on Friday. Today, I look ahead to Gameweek 23 and beyond and the possibility of what activating the wild card could mean. Following Chef Dale on Twitter, he said, “It’s time,” activating his WC, welcoming back the likes of Aguero and Kane up front. While I didn’t put much thought into, I decided to play with this option. Last year I activated my second WC for Gameweek 21. While it temporarily stopped the bleeding red, with 67 points and a green arrow, the following 5 weeks resulted in a all red arrows, hitting a season low 1.6m in the overall ranking.

To say I am a bit hesitant to activate the wild card is an understatement. Many fantasy pundits will have you believe you hold activation unti lthe DGWs are announced in order to maximize the numbers of players from those given teams. Sound advice, I do believe. However, if you steam is wrought with injuries or players are out of form, then early activation of the wild card could be beneficial. That is the crossroad I stand at now, ahead of Gameweek 23.

As it stands with a single game remaining in DGW22, here is my 15-man squad. Yes, you are correct I did not own Harry Kane for the DGW. As of this posting, it’s come off as a good move, pending the outcome of the Spurs match. He was supposed to be picked up for the DGW, but I missed the deadline and was stuck rolling my FT over for the second week in a row.

As you can see, I have four injuries to deal with. The most glaring being the Liverpool duo, Mohammad Salah and Philippe Coutinho, who’s acting a little pussy now with the transfer window open and Barca going shopping. Charlie Austin is more of a long term injury, after serving his suspension, while Rob Elliot could retain his starting spot for Newcastle.

Other issues that require attention, the fact that Eden Hazard (£10.6) finally returned his first goal in 7 games! Thankfully That goal and 3 bonus points while wearing the captain’s armband has helped me for DGW22. Chelsea still has favorable fixtures, but I feel there is better value elsewhere.  Paul Pogba (£7.9) hasn’t been  great since returning from suspension. By all appearances, his 7.0/ppg was a big draw for managers, like me, who brought him back in for GW19. Unfortunately, he’s returned just once, 2 assists and 3 bonus points in this current game week.

Defensively, I have struggled with Christian Kabasele, many fantasy managers have struggled with all Watford defenders, even with favorable fixtures, the Hornets are in a downwards spiral, now winless in the last 6 games. Yet, on paper they still have some good fixtures going forward.

I’ve been looking over current form and upcoming fixtures. While I would love to keep the premium 5-man midfield, as I took too many hits in order to make it happen, the suspension/injury to Austin put a stop to it. Wayne Rooney’s illness (not fit) would still be a possibility, but I don’t believe I can continue to ignore Kane. Tabbed as “essential” by pundits and fantasy managers alike, I feel he needs to be included in any plans.

With Kane inserted into as the starting forward, it points towards a 4-5-1 or 3-5-2 formation. Other options up front with both be budget players, Glenn Murray (£5.7), who would be brought in, while I would retain the services of Callum Wilson (£5.7). Other possible players up front to flank Kane include, Andy Carroll (£5.8), as West Ham have favorable fixtures through GW27. Shinji Okazaki (£5.5) might be a good differential if Islam Slimani departs for Watford. Laurent Depoitre (£5.5) had been in my squad, but only picked up a single goal from him in since bringing him in for GW19.

Marcos Alonso (£7.1) continues to anchor my defense, where he has been since GW5, now on 6 goals for the season, he’s getting the accolades he earned last season by many who had moved him when he was being outplayed by Cesar Azpilicueta. Jonjoe Kenny (£4.5) retains his spot, as Everton have some great fixtures through the end of the season.

While I would entertain the fact of introducing Nicolas Otamendi (£6.4), I would need to downgrade two midfielders. Yet his back line partner, John Stones, now fit, comes in with similar 90 min metrics, but at £1.0 less. It’s Otamendi with the xG advantage and increased price. Defenders would be rounded out with two more budget selections, both £4.4. As Burnley look to get back on track, their defenders are gaining fitness, Brent Matthew Lowton could find his way into my squad, while Ragnar Klavan appears to have solidified his spot in the Liverpool starting XI.

We now come to the midfield, which appears to be where a majority of points have been coming from, as long as you have those in form players. While I thought 5 premium midfielders would work, the injury to Austin throw a wrench into my plans and left me running with two budget forwards. Not exactly what I wanted.

If the wild card is activated, Salah (£9.6) and Raheem Sterling (£8.7) will be the only midfielders to remain in my starting XI. Salah is currently flagged, carrying a groin injury and potentially a doubt to start in Gameweek 23. David Silva is back into the starting XI for Man City, the Spaniard was “en fuego” before leaving for “personal business” and feel he will pick up where he left off, even though he didn’t return against Watford. Jesse Lingard (£6.2), based off recent form replaces Pogba at Man United, with 5 goals, 1 assist and 5 bonus points, he’s been great value for fantasy managers.

The fifth and final spot I am considering Riyad Mahrez of Leicester. Priced at £8.6, he’s shot up to 4th in overall scoring (midfielders) behind Salah, Sterling and De Bruyne on 126 points. His form has been sparkling, with returns in 8 out of 9 games! At just over 10.2 TSB%, he’s an alternative to players like Dele Alli, Christian Eriksen and Leroy Sane.

With a week off for FA Cup matches, I have time to reconsider the possibility of activating my second Wild Card. Hopefully after those games, we will have a clearer picture of potential DGW games for the rest of the season. While I would like to hold the wild card, I don’t think I will be doing myself any favors. The success of this week rides on the goals or lack of from Harry Kane, who appeared to be captained by many fantasy mangers.


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